Archive for August, 2012

How to Save Tax Smartly

August 28, 2012

Are you planning to save tax on your income but due to lack of knowledge or poor money management not able to do so ? Don’t worry ! You are not the only one who is facing such situations. There are thousand of people who are facing the same problem. Some people take services of a financial experts to make their investment, others pay a large amount of money in the form of income tax. Both the options consumes your money.

However, many smart people plan their financial needs and make their investment accordingly. You can also set your goals and make an investment from your earning. If you starts looking for investment schemes available in the market, you will found many options. Some of the investment schemes return a good profit on your investment while some other gives you tax benefit along with a good return. Such schemes generally have a lock-in period of 3 to 15 years but the amount earned as return are completely tax free. Different investment schemes are given below:

  1. Mutual Funds – Tax saving mutual funds helps you to invest money in the market. Investment through mutual funds is one of the safe mode as the money you invest in mutual funds are invested in different shares. With a lock-in period of three years, mutual funds give a good return depends on the market situation. However, you can keep your investment even after the lock-in period. You can invest a minimum of Rs. 500 and there is no limit for maximum investment in the mutual funds. But, you will get tax benefit only upto Rs. 1 Lac invested in the mutual funds.
  2. Employees Provident Fund – EPF saving scheme is compulsory for all the salaried person. As per the government rule, as a salaried person, you need to contribute 12% of your basic salary in EPF. This contribution is deducted automatically every month from your salary. Your employer contribute another 12% of your basic salary in your EPF account. EPF gives an average return of 9.5% and the amount received from this investment is completely tax free. You can withdraw your money after leaving the job with an employer or after the retirement. You can transfer the money from your previous EPF account to the new EPF account.
  3. Public Provident Fund – It is a long term investment scheme widely used in the India. You can get your PPF account opened through post office and state bank of india. With an annual compounded interest of 8.6%, PPF account have a maturity period of 15 years, and the amount received on maturity is completely tax free. You can have only one PPF account at a time with your name. You can make a minimum investment of Rs 500 and maximum of Rs 1 Lac under this investment scheme.

You can also invest money in other tax benefit saving schemes such as NSC, ULIP, tax saving fixed deposits and life insurance.

How to Apply for PAN Card

August 28, 2012

Permanent Account Number (PAN) is a ten digit alphanumeric number, issued by the Indian income tax department in the form of plastic card. A person can have only one PAN card issued under his name. PAN card is mandatory for all the financial transactions such as sale and purchase of assets over a specified limit, getting the taxable salary, opening a bank account and investing money in mutual funds and share markets.

You must have a PAN card, if you are filing the income tax return. For a transaction of Rs 50000 or above, you need to mention your PAN number. PAN card also works as permanent ID proof. If you do not have a PAN card and want to apply for the same then here is the process: 

  1. Download or purchase Form 49A.
  2. Complete the application form in all aspects and sign it.
  3. Affix two photographs on the space provided.
  4. Sign one photograph in a way so that half of the signature appear on the form and half on the photograph.
  5. Attach an identity proof with the application form. The documents whic can be used as id proof are:
    1. School leaving certificate
    2. Matriculation certificate
    3. Degree of recognized educational institution
    4. Photocopy of passbook front page and recent transaction page
    5. Ration card
    6. Voter card
    7. Passport
    8. Driving license
    9. Credit card statement
  6. Attach an address proof with the application form. The documents which can be used as address proof are:
    1. Telephone bill
    2. Photocopy of passbook front page and recent transaction page
    3. Credit card statement
    4. Ration card
    5. Passport
    6. Voter card
    7. Driving license

Collect all the documents as mentioned above and submit the application form with a nominal fees of Rs 94 at the nearest IT pan service centre. PAN card will be issued within 10-15 days after receiving the application form.

Save Money and Get Tax Benefit

August 28, 2012

You have a good earning but still you are not able to save the money. Many people are facing such problems these days. If you are also going through such situation, then read this article carefully. I have asked few people who are running through such situation, why they are not able to save the money. People have different excuses; some says, due to increase in the price of fuel and daily households, they are not able to manage their budget. There is also a group of people who says, they have to maintain their lifestyle as per their growth.

However, saving is not so difficult as it looks. You have to make commitment to yourself, that you have to control your expenses and make some investment regularly. You need to create a budget for your monthly expenses. If you have a good track on your saving and expenses, you can manage in a better way. You can control your unnecessary expenses which helps you in saving. Buy only those things which you actually require. Avoid buying such things which you rarely use.

When you starts saving a small amount of money on a regular basis, after some time it will become your habit. In this way, you will have a good saving after some time. Initially, starting with a small amount, you can increase your saving amount later on. Saving regularly also helps you to get tax benefit on your taxable income. With regular investment, you will not get extra burden for your tax saving investment.

You can invest your money in tax saving investment schemes. In this way, you will get double tax benefit. First, you will get the tax benefit on the money that you invest and second, the amount that you will receive on maturity is completely tax free. Some double tax benefit investment schemes are PPF, EPF, and tax saving mutual funds. Each scheme have their own terms and conditions so please read carefully before investing.

Preparing Yourself for Technical Writing

August 25, 2012

Most of the reader who have recently completed their education are preparing for their interviews. Probably some of them have not decided their career option till now. If you have ever came across Technical Writing profile, this article helps you to prepare for technical writing. Remember, once you choose this profile as career option, you have to write everyday something. To provide quality documents your writing style should be very good. Follow these guidelines to improve your writing skills.

  1. Write Everyday: As a technical writer you have to write a lot on different technologies. So, to improve your writing skills and develop good quality documents, you need to practice a lot. Write everyday something on a topic or about your daily routine. This gives you a chance to think quickly while writing.
  2. Read Something Everyday: Reading is also a technique to improve your writing skills. When you read an article or document, you learn different writing styles. Everyone have their own writing style and you can learn or pick some writing styles from those documents.
  3.  Proofread: During writing, sometimes you did not remember the basic guidelines of writing and commit the same mistakes. To overcome these mistakes proofread your document after completing scripting. Make it a habit to proofread your written documents, this improves your writing.
  4.  Update your writing skills: Check out the general guidelines of writing at a regular interval. Sometimes, writing style varies for different documents. Various writing tools are available in the market. Update yourself with these writing tools to make your writing effective.
  5.  Specialize in a domain: To enhance your market values try to write on a particular subject. Expertise yourself in a subject of your choice – ranging from a software to technology. This makes you expert in a specific field or technology. I had to write a lot on Adobe InDesign, and Dreamweaver.
  6.  Be Confident: Confidence gives you the power to face a problem. Be confident while asking or answering a question. Control your emotions, and try to show your confidence on your face. While interviewing, initially, you feel that subject matter experts (SME’s) are quite complex. But keep yourself updated with latest technologies, and learn how to ask questions. Make notes, and a list of questions to ask. You get expertise in the subject as time goes.

In this way, your writing skills will be improved which helps you to shape your career.

Requirements of Technical Writers

August 25, 2012

As long as manufacturers keep producing technology oriented products, technical writers exists in the industry. Technical writers are required to explain the usage, benefits, and working of these new technologies to the end users. The requirement of technical writers is increasing everyday in the market. Technical writing is a fascinating and lucrative career option for many reasons. Technical writers have the opportunities to:

  1. Develop a wide range of information including writing, book design, graphic design, web development, training and videography.
  2. Express your creativity in a variety of media and formats.
  3. Learn new subject from the experts.
  4. Find work in almost any industry.
  5. Be involved in interesting programs throughout the product development life cycle.
  6. Start working as a business analyst after a good experience as a technical writer.
  7. Promoted to Sr. Technical writer after a good working experience in this field.

Technical writing is an emerging industry in the market. People gets aware about this profession, and looking their career as a technical writer. Technical writing becomes a well known profile in the industry. This article is for those people who are not aware of this profile.

Well, technical writer is a professional who prepare technical documents for software and electronic products (mobile, I-pod, Digital Camera, and other appliances). These technical documents include; installation guide, user manuals, troubleshooting, and device configuration. It is responsibility of a technical writer to describe all the technical aspects in an easy to understand way. User manual is provided with all the appliances or gadgets sold in the market.

Technical writer gathers information from various sources, and prepare documents accordingly. When preparing user manuals for software, writer uses the software, and gather required information. By using the application, writer will come to know various facts. In this way, author becomes familiar with the appliance, and can represent all the features in a better way. Generally, technical writer plays a major role in success of a product.

The advantage to work as a technical writer is, you get a chance to work on different technologies. As a writer, you need to prepare user manuals, installation guides, white papers, story boards, business proposals, and e-learnings. Preparing different kind of documents is a very nice experience. But while preparing these kind of documents, audience level should be clear to the technical writer. Audience are the end users who are going to use the technical documents.

Different Types of Writing

August 25, 2012

When we talk about writing, it can be of any kind. Type of writing can vary, depending on the style, motive or technology on which you are writing. In my technical writing career, I have done various kind of writing, and today I want to share my knowledge on different types of writing which are given here:

  1. Technical Writing: It refers to writing technical concepts, and ideas in an easy to understand method. Today cell phones, computers, televisions, and refrigerators become an essential part of our life. Thus, it is necessary to understand installing, and troubleshooting these gadgets. Technical Writing involves writing on these kinds of gadgets, and creating online help, user manuals, installation guides, reports and other technical documents.
  2. Content Writing: It refers to writing on various fields, such as business, technology, politics, market, and research. Generally, content writing deals with the contents prepared for web. Main objective of content writing is to understand the target audience, and prepare content that can catch their attention. Content writing also used to prepare the content on the basis of search engine optimization to achieve the top ranking on the search engines.
  3. Copy Writing: Copy writing refers to write the content for advertising and media to promote a product, a group, a company, or an idea. Aim of copy writing is to sell a product, service, or suggest your target audience to choose your business, or organization. Copy writing may also deals in creating proposals, whitepapers, newsletters, brochures, press release, and other promotional materials.
  4. Creative Writing: It covers a broad range and involves writing on different topics – fiction or non-fiction. Generally, creative writing includes writing short stories, poems, and novels. Main objective of creative writing is to look the world from a different perspective, and express your thoughts creatively.
  5. API Writing: This kind of writing deals with application programming interface. API is a source code interface provided to interact with applications. API writing involves writing for programmers or developers. API writing helps end users to learn about the API functions, their purposes, and parameters that are available in the application. In simple words, API writing tells you, what a function is supposed to do.
  6. Instructional Designing: Instructional designing deals with systematic development of learning objectives using instructional concepts and theories. Instruction design is used to make the learning as much interesting as possible. This kind of writing is widely used to prepare induction training programs.
  7. Journalism: Journalism refers to writing and reviewing, articles and news. Journalism is related to writing the content for print media like (newspaper, and magazines), and electronic media like (television, radio, and internet). Journalist reports and writes on a variety of topics which includes politics, business, market, health, education, sports, and relationships. Purpose of journalism is to educate, inform, and enlighten the reader.
  8. Editing or Reviewing: It deals with modifying a document, audio or video to meet the end user requirements. Editing and reviewing involves checking the document for consistency, grammatical correctness, and styles used to design the document. This process confirms that documentation or audio/video material is of good quality, and is ready to dispatch.

These are different types of writing used in the industry. Each type of writing requires hard work, focused mind, and a learning temperament.

Different Phases of Document Development Life Cycle

August 25, 2012

Technical documents play a major role in the success of software/product. These documents include user manuals, installation guides, and help pages. For good quality technical documents, DDLC must be followed while preparing these documents. Different phases of Document development life cycle are given here:

  • Requirement Analysis
  • Audience Analysis
  • Document Design (Outlining)
  • Development
  • Review
  • Publishing
  1. Requirement Analysis:- In this phase, technical writer understands the software requirement, and starts gathering information regarding the same. Technical writer explore the software, understand various features by working on it, and meet software developers to gather the valuable information. Once this phase is completed, all the queries related to software requirement must be resolved.
  2. Audience Analysis:-Technical document which needs to be prepared by technical writer are used by certain users. It must be clear to technical writer who will be the audience of these documents. Audience level is not same for a software, and may vary depending on their knowledge about the software. Audience can be categorized in two parts – novice audience, and experienced audience.

    Novice audiences are completely new to a software. They do not have any idea/knowledge of the software. On the other hand, experienced audience either have complete or a little knowledge of the software.

  3. Outlining the Document:- In this phase, outline of the document is prepared, which contains overall plan/structure of the document. Outlining is skeletal format of the document, and gives an idea of placing the elements. This skeletal information contains, introduction, table of contents, chapter/section information, and index. Outline gives the clear view of complete document at a glance.
  4. Development :- In this phase, actual development of the technical document is done. Technical writer explains all the contents that are collected, and planned in the outlining phase. Development phase require some extra time as complete drafting is done under this phase. Detailed table of content is also prepared with page numbers under this phase.
  5. Review:- Reviewing of documents include, checking the document for technical or grammatical errors. Testing review is done for measuring the quality of document for technical correctness while quality review is done by quality analyst to find grammatical mistakes.
  6. Publishing:- After completing testing and quality reviews, the document is ready to print. After completing all the previous phases, this phase relates actual delivery of the document to its target audiences.
Understanding the DDLC process helps in creating efficient, error-free, and quality documents.

Software Used in Technical Writing

August 25, 2012

In technical writing, you need to create documents in various formats like online help, user manuals, courseware, print media, and web based trainings. Various tools are available in the market to prepare these documents. These tools can be categorized according to the task performed by them. Let’s have a look on these tools:

  1. Publishing Tools (Microsoft Word, and FrameMaker) – Microsoft word is widely used to do the publishing tasks. It is easy to create, review, and modify your documents in Ms Word but with larger documents (more than 600 pages), it can create some problems. On the other hand, FrameMaker is considered as more stable and consistent tool to design documents. Styles are very consistent and rigid in FrameMaker that helps in handling larger documents.
  2. Help Authoring Tools (RoboHelp, Epic Editor, and HTML Help) – With the increase in internet usage, users become more dependent on internet. Online help allows the user to resolve their problems quite easily rather than turning pages of manuals. Help authoring tools like RoboHelp, Epic Editor and HTML Help are used to create online help manuals.
  3. Image Editing Tools (Photoshop, SnagIt, Corel Draw and Illustrator) – Graphics play an important role in making a document attractive. Image editing tools are used in designing, capturing, cropping, and modifying an image for the document. SnagIt is a screen capturing tool while others are used as image editing tools.
  4. Screen Recording Tools (Adobe Captivate) – These tools are used to create product demos, engaging simulations, and scenario-based training. It does not require programming knowledge or multimedia skills to work on these tools. Adobe captivate is a screen recording tool and widely used to create simulations.
  5. Web Designing Tools (Dreamweaver, FrontPage) – Web designing tools are used to prepare the content in the form of web pages. The valuable information is provided on these web pages and helps the user to solve their problems. Animations can also be used to make these web pages attractive.
  6. Template Designing Tools (InDesign, and PageMaker) – Templates are used to provide same layout throughout the document. Adobe InDesign and PageMaker are used to design templates. It is very easy to design datasheets, whitepapers, brochures, and other technical documents using these tools.
  7. Multimedia Tools (Flash and 3D Max) – Multimedia tools are used to create audio and video content. Animations can be added to your web pages or web content to make them attractive. Flash and 3D Max are widely used to create interactive animations and demonstrations.

These are some of the basic tools used in technical writing. However, various tools available in the market used for technical writing. Companies used different software for technical writing according to their convenience and usage.

Importance of Quality in Technical Writing

August 25, 2012

People often respect good quality writing, if you deliver your work in a strong and error-free package, readers take you seriously, and your message comes clearly to your audience. Your words reach people’s hearts and minds. Your writing is more powerful than a sword. It inspires, educates, and sometimes entertains your audience. If your writing is weak, readers say, “So what happen next?” If your writing contains errors, readers may confuse or distract from the actual message.

Interesting, error-free, and quality writing is what people expect when they buy a book. As a technical writer, it becomes your responsibility to provide your audience exactly what they expect. Readers will recommend good quality book to their friends, give it as a gift to their loving one’s, and wait expectantly for your next publication. Reader-by-reader your world gets change. What a tremendous responsibility! What a wonderful benefit!

When you write something that you know, you write it with authority. People listen to you because you are one who knows. Your knowledge is a gift to share among people. If others have different opinion in the field, you are writing about, acknowledge the other side also. Your statement will come across more strongly if the reader knows you have addressed the arguments/questions they would raise.

Remember, once you write something, at least some of the readers are going to believe you. Nobody notices when it is done well, but everyone see your mistakes clearly. Mistakes distract even the most sympathetic reader. Try to use active voice as much as possible because active voice is stronger, and moves the action along. Usage of passive voice seems like you are trying to hide something from your audience. So go ahead, and provide the best quality writing to your readers.

Skills Required in Technical Writing

August 25, 2012

Technical writing is now noticed and gaining recognition with time. Recently, I read about technical writing in the employment news. An article about technical writing was published on the front page. It indicates that people now looking technical writing as a career option. When I have joined as a technical writer, nobody knows about this field. I need to explain about my profession, when someone asked me about it. It makes me quite disappointed when I found that nobody knows about this profile. But, now as I tell somebody about my profession, people praise my work.

The qualities of a good technical writer include analyzing, writing, interviewing, and instructional designing skills. To be a good technical writer, you should be able to understand complex subjects quickly, and explain them in an easy language. You should be able to identify your audience, and explain the things in a simple way. You should be able to write clear, concise, error free, and user friendly documents. Personal and technical attributes are also necessary for a good technical writer.

  • Personal Attributes: As a technical writer, you should be a good listener, and quick learner. You should have good communication and writing skills. You must know organizing your thoughts in a better way, and write them accurately. You should be creative, focused, and able to interact with end users.
  • Technical Attributes: Generally, people having degrees in journalism, English literature, mass communication, and engineering are preferred for technical writing. However, it is not stable, and varies from company to company. For example, a software company prefers a person with technical or engineering backgrounds whereas, a company into media and publication prefers a person with a degree in journalism and mass communication.

With the increase in desktop publishing work, technical writers are increasing regularly. These technical writers are responsible for the publication of books, courseware’s, graphics, and document design. Major tools used by technical writers are as follows:

  1. Microsoft Word
  2. Adobe RoboHelp
  3. Adobe FrameMaker
  4. Adobe Captivate
  5. Adobe Dreamweaver
  6. Adobe Photoshop
  7. Adobe PageMaker
  8. Adobe Acrobat
  9. HTML Help
  10. Snag It
  11. Macromedia Authorware
  12. Epic Editor
  13. Web works

These are certain tools generally used in technical writing. However, if you are not familiar with these tools, you can learn them with time. There are online tutorials available to learn these tools at your own. You can also learn these tools using the Help section included in the software. Some companies hire freshers (having no experience) for technical writing, and train them on these tools. But, if you have the knowledge to work on these tools, then it will give you an advantage in job search.

After all, technical writing is the field of professionals who know “how to keep the balance of content, grammar, and style to achieve the goal”. As a technical writer, you have to produce quality documents that help people to learn, and use the technology easily. You may ask to write documents for people who have different experience level on the technology. So, always keep your target audience in mind while writing.